Do you need to have sock yarn to make socks with? Can you only make socks with sock yarn?
If you have knit for any length of time then you have probably heard these two questions many times in a variety of different ways. Of course, like most things in knitting, the answer to both of these questions is no. You don’t have to make socks out of “sock yarn” and you can make other things than just socks with “sock yarn”.
I have a love/hate relationship with the term “sock yarn” because it is just a term that has grown to refer to a fingering weight wool yarn that often has nylon added to it for strength. Of course, this is not the only type of sock yarn available because the types range from 100% wool to a luxurious yack/nylon blend. In fact, sock yarn does not even have to refer to a fingering weight yarn. There are some worsted weight sock yarns on the market, they just aren’t as popular because they make thicker socks than fingering weight yarn does.
Even though we have lots of options to chose from, there is a lot of confusion over what sort of yarn to use when making socks. So, I’m going to go over the top five sock yarn questions that I’ve been seeing floating around Ravelry for the last couple of years.
Do you have to make socks out of fingering weight yarn?
Of course not! You can make socks out of everything from lace weight yarn to super bulky yarn. The trouble is the thicker the yarn you make socks out of, the thicker the socks will end up being. So, while you can make socks out of bulky yarn, you might not want to unless you want to make socks that are more like slippers than actual socks. Similarly, you can make socks out of lace weight, but you would have to knit it with such small needles and with a huge amount of stitches to make sure that they fit that you might not want to because it would be so time consuming.
All sock yarn has wool and I don’t wear wool. Is there non-wool sock yarn out there?
Yes, there are some non-wool sock yarns out there. You can make socks out of cotton or linen or any other type of yarn out there. I have found that the socks made out of material without any wool at are have less bounce back and can stretch out and loose shape more easily. Even a sock yarn with a tiny bit of wool in it will have much more spring to it than a 100% cotton sock yarn.
Can you make socks out of 100% wool? Do you have to have nylon in sock yarn to make socks out of it?
Yes, you can make socks out of 100% wool. To make them stronger, you need to knit them at a tighter gauge than normal so they won’t wear out as quickly. After all, for many years in human history there weren’t any sock yarn blends with wool and nylon.
I found a sock yarn that I love and I don’t want to make socks out of it. Can I make something else out of it?
Of course you can make something else out of it. You don’t have to make socks out of sock yarn. Again, sock yarn is just a wool/nylon fingering weight yarn, so you can make anything from shawls to hats out of it if you prefer. There are lots of gorgeous sock yarns out there that you can use to make anything out of. Remember, there is no such thing as a knitting police and you can do anything you want to do.
Does sock yarn count as stash?
Technically it takes up space, so it should count as stash. But, there is a running joke around knitters that sock yarn already has a project linked to it, so it doesn’t count as stash because you already have a plan for it. I don’t know how that joke got started. It might have been the Yarn Harlot. It might have been someone else, but apparently this causes a lot of anxiety for newer knitters for some reason. It’s a joke. If you want your sock yarn to count as part of your stash, then count it. If not, then don’t. Just don’t prioritize buying yarn over taking care of yourself or taking care of your other adult responsibilities.